There were three things Simpson Soli promised himself he would never do in life. First: never live in Utah. Born and raised in Samoa, he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to live in the West. Second: work with teenagers. Third: go hiking and backpacking. Who needs hiking when you’ve got the beach? “As islanders, you think of hiking as a waste of time and energy,” he says with a laugh.
But Simpson Soli didn’t count on falling in love, first with his wife and then with all of the things he used to think he’d never even like.
The father of four met his wife, a former RedCliff staffer, in Hawaii. She wanted to return to Utah to become a licensed therapist.
“My wife loves Utah,” he says. “It was a hard thing for me to leave the island and come here. But I guess you make sacrifices for each other.”
That was two years ago. Since he hired on at RedCliff, Simpson has learned to love the Utah desert and the students he works with.
“It’s beautiful out here,” he says. He also says he’s learned to appreciate the simple things in life. And he thinks his experiences at RedCliff are a good compliment to what he someday hopes to do – pursue a career in psychology and criminal justice.
“At RedCliff you have to understand where students are and where they are coming from,” he explains. “These students are real – not just objects. It always comes down to having a relationship with people.”
Simpson started at RedCliff as a field staff and has since worked as a temporary intake coordinator. He’s currently a back-up driver, delivering supplies personnel to the field. He says the job is important to daily operations. “If I do my job well, it’s a little easier for the field help and therapists,” he says.
Simpson says he learns something ever day, either from his coworkers or the students themselves. “I put whatever I learn about the ego states into practice and try not to be critical or judging and so forth. Learning things like the ego states – those are tools to survive in life.”
There’s one other important lesson Simpson’s learned. He laughs and says, “I’ve stopped telling myself things I will never do.”